Varroa Mite Testing Kit including Sugar Shaker and Uncapping Fork

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VARROA MITE DETECTION TESTING KITS

With the recent detection of the Varroa Mite in NSW, we are sending our kits out as quickly as possible to all States including NSW.
ALL VARROA DETECTION TESTING KITS ARE IN STOCK.

With the recent cases of the Varroa mites (Varroa jacobsoni and V. destructor) are the most serious pest of honey bees worldwide. The mites are tiny reddish brown external parasites of honey bees.

HEIGHTENED ALERT

NSW DPI detecting the varroa mite 22 June 2022 , which was confirmed as Varroa destructor, in biosecurity surveillance hives at the Port of Newcastle, New South Wales. There is heightened surveillance of all mites nationwide including the Varroa mites (Varroa jacobsoni and V. destructor). These mites are tiny reddish brown in colour and attached on to honey bee, their unborn larvae and effectively suck the nutrients from our bees.

HOW IS IT CHARACTERISED?

On their own, individual mites are easily identifiable to the naked eye.  Left untreated varroa mite will kill any bee hive it infects. All feral and untreated bee colonies will eventually die.

HOW IS ITS SPREAD?

Drone bees are able to move varroa mites from hive to hive and even between apiaries. Mites are agile, move into hives quickly and transfer through contact between bees. There are strict quarantine requirements in place to protect the Australian honey bee industry.

WHAT TO DO?

Beekeepers are encouraged to test their own hives regularly for varroa however its regulation in many Australian states, that this inspection is undertaken at least twice per year. This is best taken in the mid-spring and again mid-autumn before the winter preparation. Using the simple sugar shake test which is a non-destructive test and targets to not kill the bees and the drone larvae varroa test which unfortunately will destroy some grubs however this process is undertaken for the long term good of the colony.

Sugar Shake Test

When varroa mites are dusted with pure icing sugar, the fine granules stick to their feet which then makes it difficult to grip onto surfaces. The dusting coating of icing sugar on adult bees causes mites to fall off the bee into the white sugar where they are more easily seen. This separation is essential because when shaken the mites now separated from the bees, can now fall though the metal mesh into a surface of water.

This simple sugar shake detection method is now used by many beekeepers throughout Australia and New Zealand.

Contents of product:

  • Sugar Shaker with special stainless-steel mesh x 1
  • Icing Sugar Sachet x 1
  • Instructions of the Sugar Shaker Bee Test 
  • Uncapping Fork for Drone Uncapping
  • Oversized Bee Drop Sheet
  • Sample Vial for collecting Mites
  • Bucket for holding water for the test and storing the kit together

Oversized Bee Drop Sheet and funnel for collecting Sample of Bees.

The sheet is placed underneath a brood frame containing bees, the bees are then shaken off the frame and fall upon this drop sheet. Its specially designed to be oversized to capture all falling bees, waterproof for use in the field on wet areas whilst flexible to aid the funnelling of the bees into either a sugar shaker or alcohol wash container.

Sugar Shake Bees onto Oversized Bee drop sheet

The process in using the Sugar Shake Test for Bees are as follows:

  1. Remove the lid and all contents inside.
  2. Select a frame/s of bees that does not hold the queen bee but is also a central frame to the brood. The Queen Bee must not be used in this test.
  3. Put approximately 200 - 250 worker and drone bees (1/2 cup) in the sugar shaker container and then securely replace the lid, carefully add 1 tablespoon (tbsp) of icing sugar through the grill mesh.
  4. Slowly, without shaking the bees, roll the sugar shaker minimising the loss of icing sugar for about 2 minutes. Ensure that the bees are fully coated.
  5. Pause for 2 minutes and do not move the bees.
  6. Repeat step 4 with another 2 minutes of rolling the sugar shaker.
  7. With a bucket of clean water ready, turn the sugar shaker upside down and shake the container over the water. The icing sugar will fall into the water and dissolve while if there are any mites present, they float on the water surface.
  8. After all sugar is shaken out, open the lid and return the bees back to their hive.
  9. Carefully examine the water for potential mites or pests.

For a detailed video of the sugar shake process, view the below video from the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries (DPI’s) Tocal College showing the whole process.

 


 

Drone Larvae Varroa Test

The uncapping fork test is not a replacement for the mite drop test, but is a useful additional tool.

Do not just uncap the first few drone brood you meet in a hive, it is necessary to uncap 100 cells or more, and see no mites, to be reasonably sure that the hive is not infested.

The best tool for this test is an uncapping fork with stainless steel prongs. Use one prong to uncap odd cells to establish the age of the larvae. When you find a group of drone cells that are at the pink eye stage. Insert the whole fork from the side so that the prongs will go through the thorax of the grubs. Pull out an area roughly 70 mm square.

Undertaking Varroa Drone capping test - check pink eyes

You need to use grubs of the right age otherwise they are too mushy and your actions will result in much mess and be a waisted exercise.

Capping honey bee drones in varroa drine capping test

You also need an adequate supply of drones (most beekeepers seem to avoid producing them in the mistaken belief that they will get a lower honey crop if drones are produced). Drones are a critical part of the colony function to ensure you have sufficient quantities before starting the test.

Drone uncapping for Varroa mites. Notice the dark brown spots on the larvae.  
Image courtesy Kiwimana.co.nz 2011

For a detailed video of the drone uncapping, testing for the varroa mite, view the below video from the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries (DPI’s) showing the drone uncapping process.

 


 

HOW DO I REPORT IT?

Nationwide (Australia)

If you suspect there are any exotic mites such as “Varroa Mite” (small tick shape, red/brown in colour) present, please contact the National Exotic Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881 (24 hours a day, every day of the year). Alternatively your state details are below:

ACT (Biosecurity Australia Capital Territory)

Register your hives:  https://www.cityservices.act.gov.au/pets-and-wildlife/wildlife/pest-insects/bees
tel: 1800 084 881 (Exotic Plant Pest Hotline)

NSW (Biosecurity New South Wales)

Register your hives: https://www.service.nsw.gov.au/transaction/apply-beekeeper-registration
www: www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/hives
email: hive.location@emergency.dpi.nsw.gov.au 
tel: 1800 084 881
Hive location reporting: https://forms.bfs.dpi.nsw.gov.au/forms/9247

NT (Biosecurity Northern Territory)

Register your hives: https://nt.gov.au/industry/agriculture/livestock/honey-bees-and-beekeeping/register-your-bee-hives
email: plantbiosecurity@nt.gov.au
tel: 1800 084 881

QLD (Biosecurity Queensland)

Register your hives: https://www.business.qld.gov.au/industries/farms-fishing-forestry/agriculture/niche-industries/bees-beekeeping/beekeeping/hive-registration
email: info@daf.qld.gov.au
tel: 13 25 23
Auslan Connections (Deaf Services) 07 3892 8554 or 07 3892 8512

SA (Biosecurity South Australia)

Register your hives: https://pir.sa.gov.au/biosecurity/animal_health/bees/beekeeper_registration
email: PIRSA.beebiosecurity@sa.gov.au
tel: 1800 084 881 (Exotic Plant Pest Hotline)

TAS (Biosecurity Tasmania)

Register your hives: https://nre.tas.gov.au/biosecurity-tasmania/animal-biosecurity/animal-health/bees/beekeeper-registration-form
email: biosecurity.tasmania@nre.tas.gov.au
tel: 1800 084 881 (Exotic Plant Pest Hotline)
tel: 03 6165 3777 

VIC (Biosecurity Victoria)

Register your hives: https://bees.agriculture.vic.gov.au
email: honeybee.biosecurity@agriculture.vic.gov.au
tel: 1800 084 881 (Exotic Plant Pest Hotline)

WA (Biosecurity Western Australia)

Register your hives: https://www.agric.wa.gov.au/livestock-biosecurity/registering-owner-stock-or-beekeeper
email: padis@dpird.wa.gov.au
tel: 1800 084 881 (Exotic Plant Pest Hotline)

 

 

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Sasha B.
Varroa Mite Testing Kit

Fantastic kit. I highly recommend getting.

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